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John Moresby
John Moresby Maull&Fox BNF Gallica.jpg
Born (1830-03-15)15 March 1830
Allerford, Somerset, England
Died 12 July 1922(1922-07-12) (aged 92)
Fareham, Hampshire, England
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Rank Rear admiral
Commands held HMS Endymion
Relations Fairfax Moresby (father);
L. Adams Beck (daughter)

Rear Admiral John Moresby (15 March 1830 – 12 July 1922) was a British naval officer who explored the coast of New Guinea and was the first European to discover the site of Port Moresby.

Life and career

Moresby was born in Allerford, Somerset, England, the son of Eliza Louisa and Admiral of the Fleet Sir Fairfax Moresby. He joined the navy at an early age as a Volunteer 1st Class in HMS Victor, and rose to be in charge of the 1,031 ton paddle steamer cruiser HMS Basilisk in which he made hydrological surveys around eastern New Guinea. During the survey of the southern coast he discovered the harbour which he named Fairfax after his father. The town established there, based on already existing native villages (principally Hanuabada) was named Port Moresby and is now the nation's capital.

John Moresby was also searching for a shorter route between Australia and China and on the eastern tip of the island he discovered the China Strait. He continued exploring along the north west coast as far as the Huon Gulf.

On 29 September 1876, Moresby took command of HMS Endymion, remaining in this position until 6 March 1878.

He was later promoted to rear admiral and died on 12 July 1922 in Fareham, Hampshire, England.


In 1859 he married Jane Willis Scott (? – 1876) of Queenstown, Ireland and had six children:

  • Walter Halliday Moresby CBE (9 November 1861 – 24 April 1951), lawyer and spy
  • Elizabeth Louisa Moresby (1862 – 3 January 1931), became a well-known writer under a variety of pseudonyms, married Edward Western Hodgkinson and Ralph Coker Adams Beck
    • Harry Drake Hodgkinson
  • Ethel Fortescue Moresby (1865 – ?), married Frederick Haines
  • Georgina Moresby (23 July 1867 - 1953?), married Peyton Temple Mackeson (1854–1918)
    • Donald Fairfax Mackeson
  • Hilda Fairfax Moresby (16 December 1868 – 16 August 1893), accidentally drowned
  • Gladys Moresby (5 April 1870 - ?)
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